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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dog for David and Drama

A new blog and website came to my attention through Flappiness Is's latest post: A Dog for David: http://www.dogfordavid.com/.

A family is trying to raise the money for their son to get an autism service dog. Service dogs are wonderful resources for individuals who need them. Let's be honest, dogs are wonderful for all people. The bond between a dog and his or her person is a delight to witness and a wonder to experience (In Kathleen's case, sometimes the bond is one of duty to a dog that drives everyone crazy and tries to eat the chickens, which is not cool).

We've added this new blog to the directory, and I thought I'd bring both Flappiness Is's post and the blog to readers' attention for a specific reason: drama.

I don't know the details of who's currently attempting to discredit the author of the blog, and I don't need to. If you've been online long enough, there's no doubt that you've experienced being on both sides of that equation. I have. It's not pretty. It's not fun. In the end, it's completely a waste of time, time that could have been spent making a positive change.

So why do we keep striking out at one another? Why can't we put common interests ahead of egos and competing ideologies?

Mostly because we're human and flawed. We come online for a variety of reasons, and sometimes that's to strike out, sometimes that's to try to counter what we think are horrendous mischaracterizations and misinformation, and in our zeal to to right wrongs, we commit our own wrongs.

I think the drama, the trolls, how ugly it can get when we put ourselves out there in our truth, all of that contributes to a rapid turnover in bloggers. Yes, some hang in there for years, but I've seen bloggers come and go in the last four years, people I thought were wonderful writers and had important perspectives to share. These are people I still miss. I understand, but still...

I've also seen that blogging relationships and friendships rise and fall on the focus of interest, and how a difference of opinion can destroy what were supportive friendships.

We're thorny people, and we've all been wounded by our friends, our communities, strangers, and sometimes, even our own families. All of us, whether we are on the spectrum, bouncing around the edges of it, or simply connected to ones who are, have been hurt, misunderstood.

We come here, online, seeking kinship and community and distraction, and we each find these things in our own way.

We often forget that there are people at the other end of our rants, our accusations, our own hurt or anger, and that our words, our responses can make their lives harder. We forget to be kind. We forget to empathize with someone in a different situation, especially if the other person is combative, acerbic, or bitter.

I once took comments that disagreed with me or were curt, short, abrupt, as meaning that the other individual was discounting my perspective. I was shortsided, as one of my most rewarding friendships has been built with an individual whose comments I once viewed combatively. I'm so glad we kept trying, though, to understand each other. What a difference. Support, understanding, respect and no need to agree with everything with each other. See, we can be blessed and find that with people who are incredibly similar and yet fantastically different, like I have with Kathleen, and we can find it with those who hold radically different points of view, too, if we'll hang in there and work to understand. It's not a one way street, of course, as relationships take two to build.

Kurt Vonnegut often repeated his favorite lines from his Uncle Alex, one that resonates more each day with me, and showcased in his novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (despite the fact that Vonnegut was a flawed human being who often failed to live up to this line): "There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."

One thing is certain: we can't go back and undo damage we've done with our words or actions, but we can go forward trying to live up to that adage, even though we are sure to fall short.

Give A Dog for David a looksee, share it if you see fit, welcome the family into the online autism world, with all its flaws and all its glory, and damn it, be kind if you can, and if you can't, try not to make other people's lives worse.

Best, Kim

11 comments:

Bright Side of Life said...

Here here! Very well said. x

Bright Side of Life said...

Thought you might be interested in this.... :)

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Anonymous said...

I'm a bit concerned by your use of 'troll' here.

A difference of opinion does not by itself make someone a troll. You talk about common interests, and say this:All of us, whether we are on the spectrum, bouncing around the edges of it, or simply connected to ones who are, have been hurt, misunderstood.

I don't know what 'drama' occurred on the blog you mention, and you don't explain it clearly here, other than your calls to 'all get along'. I read through some posts on Flappiness' blog and found a few statements that were quite triggering to me as an autistic individual. If I commented on them, would that make me a troll in your eyes? Despite everything we've explained, is this still the future for any autistic advocate?

A troll, in internet parlance, is someone who deliberately stirs up trouble for the lulz. If you are talking about some random person who has done this, then fine. But if you are talking about someone with a valid point of view, (and let's be honest, this is frequently an autistic person disagreeing with a parent) calling them a troll (something that I am increasingly noticing on parent-written blogs) is unacceptable.

Kim Wombles said...

The use of troll was specific to those who go around just to crap on a person, not to whatever drama was specific to Flappiness Is's situation.

I did not know what the drama was when I wrote the post, although I later figured it out in reading through the blogs on the directory, something I try to do, ten or so, each day. Given that we have over a thousand bloggers, that takes some time to do.

I did not say we all needed to get along with the implication that agreement or silence is required. For one, that's impossible. For two, it would be boring and hypocritical.

In essence, that assessment would be reducing my post to a tone argument. What matters is the argument, not the tone used to deliver it. Content and intent matter, not the sometimes inelegant attempts to convey content. I think that stopping to consider whether our biases and current emotional state are interfering with receiving the content before we respond is a good thing--failing to do that does not make one a troll. It makes one human.

Anger, passion, a commitment to stand up and speak out against injustice is so important.

Going around and crapping on people because one gets off on it hurts everyone. And lashing out at others in order to make oneself feel better is a crappy thing to do. For example, there's an article over at Stir about a woman who died after having a late term abortion. The comments are loaded down with people basically applauding the woman's death and saying she got what she deserved. They're more interested in piling on than they are in remembering that there are real people involved, a family devastated by losses, and that the original news report is so vague as to information that making a judgment on the mother is completely unfounded. No one but the family and their doctors knows what was involved.

I think the general call to kindness is entirely reasonable. Kindness doesn't mean conformity, doesn't mean enforced agreement and silence.

If we've gotten to the point that kindness has to be explained and defended, then I fear for our ability to have beneficial communication and doubt our motto of community over chaos.

We support diversity here, and our bloggers listed here represent all views. We respect their right to convey their stories in their own way. Agreement and conformity are not required to be listed. Heck, not even kindness is required.

It is our hope that by being inclusive, everyone who comes here will be able to find fellowship.


Kim Wombles said...

Also, added your blog. :)

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